June 10, 2008

Gable's rested and ready

Imagine stepping into an office, knowing that just one misstep, no matter how big or small, could get you demoted. Imagine knowing just one day at home with the flu could cost your job.

Imagine having all the pressure in the world to perform, with capable coworkers salivating at the chance for your status.

Now, imagine being a running back at USC - not all that different.

C.J. Gable knows this as much as anyone.

Gable's started the past two season openers, only to see playing time diminish due to performance and injury.

Gable knows just one fumble on or off the field, and it could be someone else getting his carries. The pressure, he said, helps the players perform at a higher level.

"It's kind of hard for us to slack off. There's more than one person as good as you waiting for an opportunity," Gable said. "I just have to take advantage of every time I'm on the field in anything we do because I know there's someone right there behind me trying to get my spot."

Gable saw Satfon Johnson come on strong late last season while he was shelved with an injury. He also saw Joe McKnight continue to blossom into an explosive playmaker.

Knowing he couldn't afford to miss much more time on the field, Gable still got in work during spring practice even after suffering a groin injury.

The groin didn't heal.

"I had treatment all spring, but then I'd go to practice," he said. "I didn't have the time to sit back, relax and let it heal by itself."

The gap between spring practices and summer workouts allowed Gable to finally relax and heal, but it did so with a cost.

Gable admitted he entered summer workouts not fully prepared physically.

"I didn't really take advantage of the break. I could've been working out more," he said. "I just decided to relax because of my groin. I'm kind of out of shape a little bit.

"But, it's not all that hard for me to get back in shape. Right now, I'm almost in shape already. It's going good right now."

Gable's been attending the earl morning workouts held by strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and his staff. Through one week, he's seeing improvements.

"Everyone's working really hard right now. Some people are a little out of shape because some of us didn't work out during the break. But, we're getting it back," Gable said. "And for the most part, everyone's healthy. Things are actually going smoothly right now. I'm going to try and keep it going."

Gable's spending his summer emphasizing strength to compliment his speed. He also said he's working on one specific area to his game.

"I want to be that third-down kind of back, where they can keep me in for pass blocking and everything," he said. "That's one of the most important things. A lot of running backs just run the ball, but you need someone who can do all of it.

"That's what I'm trying to do."

Whether it's on first or third down, Gable said he's ready to run with the opportunity in front of. Currently at the top of the Trojan's depth chart, the redshirt sophomore said he knows nothing in the Trojan backfield is permanent.

He doesn't even know if he'll get to start the Trojans' season opener for a third straight year.

"I don't know yet," he said. "It might all change."

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